Rookie Win: Automatic Waterers

Small potatoes

Today’s weather might not show it, but we’ve already had our first snow of the year. Summer is gone and I’m not quite sure where I put it. Unfortunately, my absence here has been mirrored by my absence in the gardens under my care. What should be a good season for me is just going to be filed under “best not to think about it.” However, it hasn’t been a complete loss. I did get to compare what happened with two completely neglected gardens.

Daggone it. I can’t believe I missed the tomatoes.

Showcase 2 was to be hand watered. I had two four-by-sixish plots and the bean plot that was to use the dead bush as a trellis. To be honest, watering that much ground on a daily basis to the extent that it needed to be watered is boring. Showcase 1 is hand-watered by the owner, but it is smaller. She is also more conscientious about it, so it worked for her. In the end, Showcase 2 gave us some very small potatoes. Literally. There were also a handful of tomatoes that had to be ripened in a paper bag because the frost came before they were ready. To be fair, part of the problem with the size of the potatoes was the very, very high nitrogen content in the soil. That should be better by next year. The problems with everything else that got planted can be pretty squarely settled on my shoulders.

They’re bigger than they look.

As for the Ranch Community Garden beds, they fared better. At one point, I did not set foot in the garden for over a month. Which, by the way, is bad manners, so don’t do it yourself. However, they yielded some enormous carrots, some very tiny garlic bulbs, and some not-unusually-sized turnips. I even would have had tomatoes from the vine if I’d paid any attention whatsoever. Why the relative bounty? Those beds were watered every night automatically. It was on the light side to avoid over-watering, but they did get it. In parts of the world where moisture is not a problem, this might not sound like such a big deal. However, around here, it is. Everything is dry around here. What little moisture comes out of the air is sucked up by plants, soil, and eventually the air again. Unless you’re growing yucca and sage, you probably need to supplement the available water pretty heavily.

Turns out you can plant garlic in the early summer. If you’re ok with the whole bulbs being the size of a regular clove.

Ask any gardener about their first garden. If their story doesn’t start with some version of “what a disaster,” then they’re selling you a fish tale or they’re the exception that proves the rule. Even moving 10′ to the side of an existing bed and starting another can elicit the same response. The cool thing about gardening, though, is that every spring, you can try again. The tale about the second year frequently starts with, “It was so much better since I’d learned the year before . . . “

2 responses to this post.

  1. Hey! You updated! Been meaning to shoot you a line to check in 🙂 Hope all is well.


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